Archive for August, 2010

Musings at Journey’s End, Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August 10, 2010 - 4:03 am 1 Comment

We can’t believe we actually did it! All the planning, dreaming, and waiting finally paid off in a big way. We wouldn’t change a thing about our time away. We made new friends along the way and came to the understanding that most of mankind is ultimately honest and kind.

Trip to Alaska: 14,000 miles at a cost of $13,000

Memories of a lifetime: Priceless

We are coming home to some sadness across the street (the impending death of our beloved neighbor), but we are hopeful that we will get home to say a final goodbye. Allan visited him on Sunday with his wife, Catherine, and beautiful little Olivia, and Rembert was alert, although weak, and knew he was there.

Here are some parting thoughts as we make our way home on the last day of our trip.

1. Alaska is a long way from Chattanooga

2. You can do anything you set your mind to

3. You better LIKE your travel partner to make a 3 month trip in an RV

4. A sense of humor is a MUST on a trip of this magnitude

5. RVing is hard work

6. America is breathtaking

7. The sun never sets in Alaska in the summer

8. Alaska has a love/hate relationship with the cruise industry

9. Most roads in Alaska are much better than we expected

10. Retirement is what you make of it

11. Don’t put off til tomorrow what you can do today

12. Trekking to Alaska is not for the faint of heart

13. We do not like “parking lot” campgrounds

14. Canada is just as pretty as Alaska with more wildlife

Best memory of the trip: Hard to narrow down, but we agree the catamaran trip to Juneau from Skagway is high on the list

Worse memory of the trip: Tour buses

Most interesting town: Hyder, Alaska

Least interesting town: Juneau, Alaska (touristy and also the capital of AK)

I could go on and on but I like to get these thoughts down so I can go down memory lane in the future. I appreciate everyone who took the time to join us on this trip by keeping up with the blog. We hope next year to visit the New England states and Nova Scotia.

Stay tuned! Bonnie

Rainy Days and Mondays, August 9, 2010

August 9, 2010 - 4:57 pm No Comments

We had a heck of a rain storm last night. It started around 1:00 a.m. and rained all night. Lots of thunder and lightening. Luckily, we rolled in the awnings before we went to bed and put the TV antenna down. So nothing for us to do except listen to the rain.

We started early this morning because we hoped we could get our hydraulic service as early as possible so we could start moving down the road. As luck would have it, they got us in around 9:00 a.m. and by noon we were on our way. The best part was there was no charge on the service due to it being under warranty.

We drove all afternoon and arrived in Effingham, Illinois, around 6:00 p.m. We will leave early in the morning and hope to get home by 5:00 p.m. EST.

I’m working on my “Musings at Journeys End” entry and I’ll post it tomorrow.

Stay tuned. Bonnie

It’s All About the Journey— Not The Destination— Sunday, August 8, 2010

August 8, 2010 - 2:02 pm 1 Comment

This morning we left our RV park around 9:30 a.m. because we were only driving 120 miles today to Iowa City. Tomorrow morning we have an appointment at the HWH Leveler Plant to have our hydraulic levelers serviced before heading home. We thought the day would be a boring one because we are driving through the cornfields and soybean fields of Iowa.

I named this entry as I did because it occurred to me in the last few days that we’ve seen so much more than Alaska on this trip. At the beginning of the trip, we only spoke of Alaska. But we have seen so much and done so much other than our visit to Alaska. It just goes to show that you must enjoy every single day and whatever that day brings. Some days are more interesting than others, but it’s still part of the journey.

In that vein of thought, we saw a sign that advertised a little community of villages called the Colonies of Amana. Sounds interesting. From the advertisements it appeared that these were colonies of German origin. So we reached the exit and decided to spend some time in the area. The first stop was the Ox Yoke Restaurant for lunch. There were a lot of local cars here so we thought that was a good sign. We had a wonderful lunch of broasted chicken, and they served the vegetables “family style” meaning they brought bowls of several different things to the table. We had fruit salad, broccoli salad, home baked bread with homemade strawberry jam, green beans, REAL creamed potatoes and gravy, and chicken. Goodness, it was such a treat to have such a home cooked meal.

After lunch and reviewing the visitor information, we drove the 17 mile loop road of the Amana colonies. In 1855 a minister and his followers from Germany came to Iowa and built a village. Several villages were built close together and they are called Amana, meaning “remain true” from the song of Soloman. The community came to about 26,000 acres. Farming was the principle means of support, but to meet the needs of the community and to produce goods for sale to outside markets, craft shops, wool mills, flour mills, and several other enterprises were built. Their way of life originally was “communal” but that lifestyle was abandoned in 1932 but the communities remained.

We visited several shops and bought a few things. You see from one photo we sat in the largest solid walnut rocking chair in Iowa. We bought some meats and cheese. We visited a wonderful wood working shop and bought a couple of items. The weather is extremely hot now and it’s difficult to move around in it. We are so thankful that we had such mild temperatures for most of our trip.

We are close to being home, but even to the end of the trip, we are still enjoying every single day. The journey continues.

Stay tuned. Bonnie

Fun evening with the Fitch Family, Saturday, August 7, 2010

August 7, 2010 - 6:07 pm 2 Comments

When our oldest son, Allan, graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1998, he was hired by Toyota to work in the corporate headquarters in California. He moved out to California not knowing one person out there. He met Michael Fitch, a graduate of Iowa State University, who was in the same management training program at corporate Toyota. They became good friends and decided to room together to save money—so they found a great little apartment right on the beach in Redondo Beach, California. I will always think of them in that bachelor pad in those early years. They have remained good friends ever since.

The Fitch family lives in Des Moines, Iowa, so we gave them a call when we knew we would be driving through Des Moines. Michael came over to our campground today and picked us up and we met Christina and the children, Samantha and Ethan, at a nearby restaurant. I brought each of the children a little gift—matchbox cars for Ethan and a little jewelry set for Samantha. Well each of the children loved the gifts. Ethan was quiet as a mouse during the entire meal, all the while rolling the matchbox cars back and forth on the table. Samantha had fun trying on all the jewelry and having us try it on as well. We had a wonderful dinner at a barbeque restaurant. We all shared a great chocolate dessert as well.

We had a great time catching up with Michael and his family, and filling them in on Allan and his family. It’s a wonderful thing to see people you have known for a long time making a family of their own. Michael and Christina are expecting their third baby in December. Samantha and Ethan are well behaved and as sweet as can be.

We’ll leave Des Moines tomorrow for eastern Iowa where we have an appointment Monday morning to get the hydraulic levelers checked out at the plant where they were installed. They worked hard during our trip and Greg wants to be sure they are in good shape before we get home.

Happy Birthday today, Greg!

Stay tuned. Bonnie

Goodbye Cheyenne Wyoming, Hello Henderson, Nebraska, Friday, August 6, 2010

August 6, 2010 - 5:29 pm No Comments

We left the AB RV Park this morning early (7:30 a.m.) because we wanted to make nearly 400 miles today. We ate breakfast at McDonald’s, got our diesel fuel, and were on the road by 8:00 a.m.

We’ve seen a lot of bikers this week. The Sturgis Cycle rally is always in August, I think I remember, and I’m guessing they are on their way up there.

We’ve hit the 12,000 mile mark on this trip. We crossed the Nebraska state line mid-morning and the landscape immediately changed to farmland. Things are looking more like home now. Miles and miles of farmland, corn as far as you can see, soybean fields, everything is green and plush. This is a great contrast from southern Wyoming which is dry and stark, but beautiful nonetheless. We passed fields full of sunflowers and they were all facing the sun as if they are reaching up into the sky.

We stopped at a beautiful rest area, one of the prettiest and most well maintained we’ve seen on this trip. There was a bus full of military personnel stopped near us. I walked over to a group of young men standing on the curb and I said “thank you all for your service”. They looked rather stunned at first, but then became quite animated. I’ve always wanted to say thank you to a serviceman and this seemed like a good opportunity since there were several standing together. None of them looked to be over 20 years old. At any rate, after their initial shock, they asked where we were from, where we were going, where we had been. They were tickled to hear about our adventures. When I turned to walk away, they stuck out their hands to give me a shake. It was a nice experience.

The high today was around 85 degrees and we are feeling humidity for the first time on this trip. Not as bad as home, but I’m sure every day will bring us more high temperatures and humidity. We also crossed into central time zone, so we are only one hour different from home now.

We stopped for the night in Henderson, Nebraska, at the Prairie Oasis RV Park. We recognize it from either last year or the year before. We are doing 3 loads of laundry tonight which should hold us until we get home next week.

Tomorrow we are stopping in Des Moines Iowa to visit an old friend of Allan’s. I’ll tell you the story tomorrow when I share photos of our visit.

Stay tuned. Bonnie

Traveling with heavy hearts today, Thursday, August 5, 2010

August 5, 2010 - 3:49 pm 1 Comment

We were notified today that our beloved neighbor of 23 years, Rembert Blaylock (93 years old) has advanced stage leukemia and will not live much longer. He has gotten weak in the last few weeks and he fell twice in the last week. The doctor finally diagnosed him Tuesday. We’ve been in touch with them weekly since we left in May.

Today I spoke with his wife of 65 years, Evelyn, and she is heartbroken and shocked. She said it seemed so sudden because he drove her to the doctor just last Friday. Hospice has been called in and although they don’t have children, their niece from Atlanta is with them now.

Rembert and Evelyn have been just like grandparents to our children and parents to us. They have had a wonderful life together. When we left on this trip, we hugged them and Rembert said he didn’t want us to go. He was sort of half kidding and half serious. We assured him we would be back before he knew it. We only pray now that we can get home before he passes. We also pray that Evelyn has the peace to endure losing Rembert, and the strength to go on without him.


Windy Wyoming, Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August 4, 2010 - 5:02 pm 2 Comments

Can hardly believe today is Wednesday again. Due to our air conditioning being out last night, we sat outside in our chairs and met some of the nicest travelers. One couple was from Palm Springs California. They were very interested in our trip to Alaska and asked a lot of questions about it. The temperature cooled dramatically as the evening wore on. By morning we were sleeping under blankets again!

We ate a quick breakfast of cereal and stopped at a local McDonald’s for a cup of coffee so that we could hit the road early. We wanted to stop in Salt Lake City to see about the air conditioning by lunchtime. We called Camping World and they could not fit us in today. After several calls to other dealers, we got an authorized Winnebago dealer who could see us at 1:00 p.m. We had no trouble getting there, even with the time changing to mountain time. We’re only 2 hours different from home now.

We found the dealership in Salt Lake City without any trouble. A nice young man named Tim helped us and I told him I was concerned about our wine from the Napa Valley getting too hot in the RV while they were working. He assured me they would take care of it. While he drove the RV back to the technician, we walked down the street to a great deli to pick up a sandwich for lunch. Before we could get back to the dealer, he called saying they had found the problem. Without going into too much detail, we think the voltage in last night’s campsite was high and it tripped the breaker and prevented it from resetting. Nothing wrong with the system. By the time we got back to the dealership, Tim had the RV sitting in the lot with the generator going to keep the RV cool for our wine. He was a great serviceman and I’ll write an e-mail to his manager when I get home telling him what great service we received. And they didn’t charge us anything for looking at it. So we sat right there in the parking lot and had our lunch before hitting the road again.

During the afternoon we had a lot of windy areas that kept us on our toes. We also saw the first bad clouds and lightening that we’ve seen in a long time. But we never hit any rain. We reached our evening destination by 5:00 p.m., Ft. Bridger, Wyoming. We are in a quiet little campground so we are looking forward to a restful evening. We should get to Cheyenne Wyoming tomorrow evening.

Stay tuned. Bonnie

Nothing in Nevada, Tuesday, August 3, 2010

August 3, 2010 - 4:12 pm 2 Comments

We left Fernley Nevada this morning around 9:00 a.m. We had an easy day of driving because we are on cruise control on I-80 just moving across Nevada. The weather was mild when we woke up, but around 78 degrees. Again, the humidity is low so we are not suffering with the heat.

We stopped mid-morning at a McDonald’s to get a cup of coffee. Then on across Nevada to Winnemucka for lunch. We decided to treat ourselves to an Arby’s sandwich for lunch rather than our usual turkey sandwich! We recognized this exit as one we had stopped at last year because there is a WalMart on this exit which we remember.

We stopped in Wells, Nevada, for the evening and we are staying in the Mountain Shadows RV Park. Greg hooked us up and when he came into the RV to turn on the air conditioner, it would not start. So he went to the RV office and got the name of a fellow who hopefully will come out to the park this evening to check on the air conditioner. The temperature is around 85 degrees but not much humidity so we can make it through the night without air conditioning if we have to. If this guy cannot fix it, then we will stop at Camping World in Salt Lake City tomorrow to see if we can get it fixed. I was just about to say this morning “can you believe we haven’t had one bit of maintenance trouble on this entire trip?”

We’ll be fine—this is just a small blip on the screen. Stay tuned. Bonnie

Homeward Bound, Monday, August 2, 2010

August 3, 2010 - 3:55 pm No Comments

This morning we awoke to foggy skies and cool temperatures, around 53 degrees. We slept fine last night except every time we leave Ben or he leaves us it’s emotional for all of us. You’d think we would be accustomed to it by now, but it never gets easier. We had a great visit with Ben and we left San Francisco on the ferry back over to Sausalito around 7:00 p.m. last evening.

We stopped at a Trader Joe’s this morning for a few items before leaving the area, and then we hit the road around 9:15 a.m. We headed for I-80 which we will drive most of the way home.

The scenery is very dramatic in this part of California. It is very dry, and as the morning progressed, so did the temperatures. By lunchtime it was 85 degrees. So once again we shed the jeans and put on shorts. I have a feeling we won’t be putting on the jeans again.

We drove through Lake Tahoe but didn’t stop. We visited there last year so we didn’t make a stop this year. But we did drive past Donner Lake which is close to Lake Tahoe and it is very beautiful.

We stopped for the evening in Fernway, Nevada, just east of Reno. We are seeing lots of casinos in this area. The parking lots are always full. Our campground is called Desert Rose, and it is aptly named. This area is very dry and desert- like. We did a couple of loads of laundry and turned on the air conditioner as soon as we settled. The afternoon temperature was mid-90’s, but we have very low humidity.

It’s hard to believe that I still have a couple of casseroles left in the freezer that I brought from home. Also a couple of packs of Choo Choo Barbeque, and one pack of shrimp. So we’ve done very well with our dinner meals on this trip.

Tomorrow we will spend the day driving across Nevada. We hope to be home in about 10 days. But stay tuned because you never know what we will see and do on the way home. Bonnie

Sights around San Francisco, Sunday, August 1, 2010

August 1, 2010 - 9:06 pm 2 Comments

2008 - 2010